Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Turning Over a New Leaf

Our summer road trips are over. Swimming lessons are over. My triathlon is over. But school doesn't start until after Labor Day. We have three weeks remaining to fill and believe you me fill them we will. These remaining weeks are entitled: No, really, you were not born in a barn. You were born in a clean and sanitary hospital. Therefore I do not understand why you choose to live in such filth muck!

My husband and I had an epiphany on our last road trip. We need to clean up our lives. Way back in March I wrote about voluntary simplicity. Everything in that post still holds true; we can do better than we are doing. And what brought this on? This reiteration of ideals that we hold true but do not practice? Vacation. That's right. Rest, relaxation and realization.

We took the family to the San Juan Islands. We went by car (gas is still cheaper than flying). We rented a small house for our family of five. We had a tiny kitchen and cooked some but mostly ate out. And let me tell you: food on the islands is great - organic, local and expensive. Couple that with a twelve-year-old who shuns the children's menu. Let's just say we quickly and literally ate through our budget.

So step number one is to start eating in. My kitchen is gigantic compared to the tiny kitchen in the Gnome House (our island base). Sometimes it takes getting away to realize how good things are at home. We've been back nearly a week and haven't eaten out. Outside of the grocery store we've spent $11.00 on food (one latte, two kids milks and one sushi tray from the market).

And if we are going to be spending so much time at home then we've also decided our house should be clean: dishes and laundry done, floors swept or vacuumed, surfaces dusted, things picked up. My husband and I are in total agreement and ready full steam ahead for step two. The kids? Not so much. With all the time and energy expended on arguing they could have cleaned their rooms ten-fold. I talk and talk and talk until I'm blue in the face "...It's my responsibility to raise you as good citizens ... what kind of mother would I be if you were never taught to clean ... don't you like living in an organized space? Doesn't your mind feel clearer? Don't you feel the Zen?" Kidspeak translation, "Wah, wah wah wah, waaaah, wah" in Charlie Brown monotone. Clearly step two is going to take some work.

And step three? We are addressing our financial future by eliminating unnecessary purchases. We will acquire essentials and only essentials. Period.

And finally step four - we will eliminate all the non-essential crap we've allowed to accumulate in our lives. Thus far we've taken eight garbage bags full kid stuff to the Goodwill and there's more to follow. There are Christmas presents from two years ago still in their original packaging! That is just not cool.

Our hope, by turning over a new leaf, is to secure not only our and our children's futures but also to do our little part in securing the future of our planet. Wish us luck!


Bridge said...

Amen to the simplicity part! The San Juan Islands sound AMAZING- just perfect. Beautiful photo too!

MonsoonAz said...

Welcome back. We're also interested in simplicity. Looking forward to hearing what works for you. Also, fantastic job on the triathlon. Very impressive.

RocketMom Cheryl said...

Good luck! I also found vacation woke me up to all the junk in the house and how much simpler life could be without it ... but our progress in extricating ourselves from the stuff is slow ...


you never cease to inspire! Short of gushing, I am in awe of your spirit. I'm so with you on the non-essential crap! I too am on a mighty similar same plan. Good luck. I look forward to hearing more!

Joy! said...

I always feel inspired by people starting a new, simpler (decluttered) existence. Yay, you! Must go work on the office-kitchen-living room now...
And glad to see more posting, too!

Carrien said...


I wish you much luck.

And a way to leverage that very expensive education of yours into a very lucrative debt eliminator? Maybe become a vet to the stars? Find an eccentric millionaire or two who like to keep pets?

Best wishes.